Did you fall in love with your tropical plants decorating your porch and patio this year? If you want to try a repeat performance next summer, follow these tips on overwintering tropical and succulent plants. The plants will not grow as much as they did outdoors while inside, but they can give you a jump start on spring if successful!

Start the Transition

Tropical plants kept outdoors in Zone 5 must be moved indoors before the first frost. We are having a warm fall, but the temps are getting lower now. This is a good time to transition your plants indoors, when the weather is consistently below 50.

First get them acclimated by bringing them in overnight then setting them back outside during the day for sunlight. Over the next week, lengthen the time you keep them in the house versus when they are outside. Try to mimic the environment indoors that the plant needed outdoors. For instance, a shade plant like ivy will be fine in medium indirect light. A sun-loving succulent will require a few hours of direct sunlight through the window.

Prep for Indoors

Cut off and remove any dead or brown leaves. To prevent spider mites or white flies, you can spray the plant with nontoxic insecticidal soap indoors. Follow instructions and repeat application as needed. You do not need to change the soil during transition. Moving indoors, changing the soil, repotting … each transition is a stress on the plant. The more transition you put the plant through, the less likely the success. Plants kept indoors prefer to be placed away from air flow vents and most will do well with indirect sunlight.

Since our homes are dry with less humidity from the furnace and air conditioning, watering once a week is adequate. This is probably a drastic cut in watering from what you were used to when watering containers outdoors. Check dryness of soil with your fingertip before watering and let soil dry completely between waterings. Save fertilizing for spring.

Watch and Adjust

Once your plant is acclimated to its new environment, you can repot if needed. Fresh potting mix is recommended if you are splitting a plant or repotting it. Use containers that drain well, keeping roots from sitting in water.

Understand that the stress of changing the plant’s environment will produce some yellow leaves, or the plant may even drop leaves. Your plant is adapting to its new home, not dying. Also, most tropicals will probably not flower indoors.

Tropical Hibiscus and Mandevilla can be moved indoors, as well as Ficus and Ferns. Ferns will benefit from weekly misting to keep their ideal damp environment. Trailing shade plants like Ivy and Tradescantia also transition well. A few of our staff move their Alocasia and Colocasia indoors over winter. These Elephant ears need space and light.

We hope you have success with moving some of your favorite container plants indoors over winter. The Growing Place will have houseplants along with Paperwhites and Amaryllis bulbs in our Holiday Shop through December 23. Winter greens will arrive in November to fill your outdoor porch and patio containers with color and winter interest!